ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Some of the first numbers that children learn in case of an emergency are 911.
Lawmakers in Annapolis, Md., announced legislation on Wednesday that will help Maryland as they transition to “Next Generation 911.”
“Already, I got this many signatures from Democrats and Republicans from around the state who understand the need to move 911 forward,” said Sen. Cheryl Kagan, (D) District 17.
“Next Generation 911” will allow residents to send texts, photos and videos to operators.
A 2-year statewide commission was created last year to help roll out the new system.
The commission also released a 65-page report that listed 23 recommendations on what upgrades the state could improve upon.
Recommendations included technology upgrades, increase cybersecurity, and talk about the decreasing amount of operators.
13 percent of the state’s 911 Specialist positions are vacant.
The current 911 network in the state is based on a design that is more than 50 years old.
“There is no time to spare,” said Bill Ferretti, director, Montgomery County 911. “Next Generation 911 transitional process have already begun in Maryland. Our residents and visitors in need of public safety assistance want and should be able to communicate not only in the same manner they communicate with each other no matter where they are in the state.”
Funding will also have to change as the current 911 funding would not cover the cost. Officials said the initial cost could be between $40 to $50 million.
“This is a challenge,” said Chief Richard Brooks, director of emergency services, Cecil County. “It is not insurmountable and it is for one purpose, and one purpose only and that is to protect the people of the state of Maryland and the visitors in this great state.
According to Senator Kagan, 22 other states are ahead of Maryland in upgrading to this system.